Before they retired to the shady halls of Dave and Buster’s, the arcades were technological wonderlands for kids and adults alike. From shooting Die Hard-esque villains with plastic light guns to racing in NASCAR as “DAYYYYYYTOOOOOONAAAAAA!” blared in your ears, the arcade offered a wealth of 5-10 minute attractions in a sea of bleeps and bloops. No genre was more perfect for the arcade than the fighting game; it was gratifying to fight your opponent face-to-face, without the need for ambulances or a good lawyer.
Aside from the yearly tournaments and occasional get-togethers with like-minded, local friends, the fighting game has been relegated to the living room. In theory, it’s a huge improvement, but playing online takes much of the communal love out of the action. Naturally, my ears perked up when I heard someone describe the free-to-play Tekken Revolution as Nacmo-Bandai’s attempt to resurrect the arcade spirit on consoles; did they find a way to make online duels feel personal again? Sadly, the only “arcade” experience present in Tekken Revolution (besides the obligatory single-player mode) is the software eager to nickel-and-dime you.
Namco fully expects you to pump quarters into its machine every time you fight online or against brain-dead AI opponents. Sure, you receive a number of free credits over time, but after playing no more than five matches, you either wait one hour (!) or pay up. Even the thought of running into their ridiculous limit encouraged me to play fewer matches of Revolution, a troubling sign when your business model relies on customers playing as often as possible.
Unfortunately, I didn’t even make it to online match #2 before I uninstalled the game in a fit of fury. My opponent had played close to 400 matches already, and thanks to Tekken Revolution’s new “leveling” system (you gain points for every match), he was able to “juice” the stats of his character far beyond the capabilities of my own greenhorn. Before the bell rang, he already had significant advantages over me; he was stronger, healthier and more resilient, and put me away with ease. Namco has thrown away any pretense of balancing their characters and replaced it with a system that chastises newcomers and heavily rewards players with more money than sense.
I could talk about the single-player (it’s awful), training options (there are none) and fighting itself (it’s Tekken Tag 2 without the Tag), but what’s the point? Unless you have ironclad patience or a wallet as thick as a brick, you’ll never find a fair fight in Tekken Revolution. Even if you have the funds necessary to outspend your adversaries, you’ll be paying big bucks for a gimped fighting game. When most fighting games can be found for $10-40 at your local store, Tekken Revolution does nothing to justify its existence. It’s yet another poor attempt to hoodwink unsuspecting consumers and should be avoided like the plague.